Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 20, 2012

Newspaper folks need a sense of humor

— — After recent visits with two local civic clubs, I’ve decided to show my readers that newspaper folks appreciate humor, even in self-defense.

For example, did you know the great Mahatma Gandhi once said that he believed in equality for everyone – except reporters and photographers?

Former presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson obviously didn’t like us because he said:

“Accuracy to a newspaper is what virtue is to a lady; but a newspaper can always print a retraction.”

And old Adlai is the same politician who uttered these words about our profession which are posted in our newsroom:

“Journalists do not live by words alone, although sometimes they have to eat them.”

A political consultant asked if I realized the power of the press, even at a community newspaper.

I told him that I wasn’t sure that Napoleon was describing us when he said that four hostile newspapers were more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.

Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman is reported to have said of the press during the Civil War:

“If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast.”

President Lyndon Johnson had many tussles with the media.

He was quoted as saying the mere fact that a man was a newspaper reporter was evidence of some flaw of character.

LBJ also supposedly said that if a reporter from a certain Washington newspaper saw him walk across the surface of the Potomac River, the story on Page 1 would be that the President couldn’t swim.

Reporters historically have been accused of being cynical. Legend has it that this question sneaked into a newspaper’s job application:

“If you saw a man drowning and you could either save him or photograph the event, what kind of film would you use?”

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